Anger Management and Gun Control? New Ways to Reduce Violence in Latin America

3/29/16 Americas Quarterly

By Viridiana Rios, Mexico Institute Global Fellow

Reducing violence is not about controlling violent neighborhoods or even about controlling violent people. It is about inducing people to control themselves. That’s it. The best policing comes when no police are required.

The question is how to achieve this in Latin America, the most violent region in the world and home to countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela, each with homicide rates similar to war zones.

The answer may be unsettling. Many instances of large decreases in homicide rates in Latin America can be traced not to large-scale judicial or police reforms, but to changes in the behavior of gang members as a result of truces with their rivals. Homicides go down when rival drug gangs, in an effort to improve their business conditions, agree to reduce violence.

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